The World Health Organisation today declared COVID-19 a pandemic. With cases rising in Australia, particularly from community transmission, COVID-19 will present significant ongoing challenges to the aged care industry for months to come. Aged care providers who fail to adequately manage the risk may face legal and/or regulatory action, and risk long-term reputational damage in a highly-charged socio-political climate.
With the ongoing backdrop of the Aged Care Royal Commission, aged care providers operating within a strict regulatory framework are faced with a unique and novel challenge in this public health crisis. That is, how to effectively balance regulatory obligations with their duty of care to residents – all of whom are most vulnerable to the virus. Times are uncertain and responses unpredictable – so far we have seen ‘panic-buying’ leading to individual supply shortages, and a whole country go into lockdown. Such contingencies will have significant impact on the aged care sector, and it is now time to start planning.